BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam voiced optimism Monday that the drafting of his new government’s policy statement would be swift and gain Parliament’s confidence vote.
He also said he supported the adoption of the previous government’s policy of disassociation, saying: “This should never be abandoned because we seek the interest of the nation and the people, and the events in Syria have impacted us negatively.”
“The atmosphere during the first meeting of the ministerial committee [drafting the statement] was good and there were discussions on several points,” Salam told Future TV in an interview.
Although he declined to comment on the content of the ministerial statement, Salam said the draft would be brief and in accordance with the viewpoints of rival factions given that the Cabinet “will only last three months."
“The opinions of political parties represented in the committee should be taken into consideration,” he said.
“This should guarantee that the concerned political parties grant the government the vote of confidence because almost all the main groups are represented,” Salam said.
Ten months after his designation, Salam announced the formation of his “national interest” Cabinet on Feb. 15, bringing together 24 ministers from the Hezbollah-lead March 8 alliance, the March 14 coalition and centrists.
The formation was the result of a deal between the March 8 coalition, the Future Movement and MP Walid Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party to have an all-embracing Cabinet
The deal which was reached last month is based on 8-8-8 Cabinet lineup in which eight ministers are allotted to the March 8 and March 14 coalitions each. The rest of the ministers are to be named by the president, the prime minister-designate and Jumblatt.
The lineup effectively grants the rival camps veto power in the government.
Commenting on the critcisms that preceded the Cabinet formation, Salam said the March 8 coalition, particularly Hezbollah, made compromises that eventually paved the way for the March 14 group to join.
“There was also a need for critical steps to be taken and [former] Prime Minister Saad Hariri did so and that helped us reach a solution,” Salam said.
“The most important thing about the formation was that it was purely Lebanese; no conference, no ambassadors mediating,” he added.
He also noted that the talks between Iran and Western powers over Tehran’s nuclear activities as well as the Geneva talks provided an opportunity to form a new government in Lebanon.
Salam, who insisted he was an independent political figure, also said that the main purpose of his government was to hold the presidential election on time and face the deteriorating security situation as well as worsening socioeconomic conditions.
Asked whether he expected his government to take over the role of the presidency should the election be delayed, Salam said such a scenario was not an option.
“I am a realistic person and we should work as if the election will take place,” he said.